JULIAN Darby has watched Wanderers from the stands plenty of times as man and boy – only now he has a special reason for doing so.

Phil Parkinson has promoted the 50-year-old, who played 346 times for Bolton, to be his new first team coach in the Championship this season.

Darby had been working at the academy for the last two years but was asked to accompany the first team on their pre-season trip to Scotland while the manager continued to scour the market for new signings and meet with players.

Now he will be Parkinson’s second pair of eyes on a match-day – taking a ‘Sam Allardyce-style’ view of the pitch from high above the dugout and offering some of the experience he gained working as a coach at Preston North End, Derby County and Nottingham Forest alongside Billy Davies.

“It all came about pretty quickly,” Darby told The Bolton News. “I’d been enjoying working with the Under-16s and was sat in the office when Jimmy Phillips gave me a shout and said the first team was a coach down, and would I like to go up to Scotland?

“I’ve worked at a few clubs with Billy – Preston, Derby, Forest – but Bolton? That’s the big one for me. I’d never turn that sort of offer down.

“I’d helped Jimmy out when he was in caretaker charge and things were in dire straits financially but to get a chance in the current environment is massive.

“I know Phil (Parkinson) from working around the training ground, say ‘hello’ in the morning or congratulate him if the team had won. We did our UEFA A Licence at the same time as well.

“To get this opportunity was a nice surprise. The manager and Steve Parkin had done most of the coaching themselves to this point but I think most clubs at this level have at least one extra coach to spread the workload.

“All of a sudden I’m up in the gantry watching the first half at West Brom, down in the dressing room passing on bits of information I picked up from seeing the game from a different angle or perspective. It’s a bit Big Sam, but if it can help the team get one or two points more in the season, It’ll be well worth it.”

Darby has seen his hometown club at its very best and its very worst.

As a player he competed in three different divisions, had one relegation, two promotions and played in just about every outfield position.

But alongside stints working back with Bolton, Darby has spent the mainstay of his coaching career looking to win games in the Championship and feels he can bring an extra dimension to the Wanderers dugout by giving manager Parkinson a different view of the game.

“Any manager will tell you how unforgiving this league is,” he said. “It’s certainly the hardest one to get out of, as some really big clubs have found out. It will be just as difficult this season.

“The lads and the staff have worked hard and made a very decent start. I certainly hope I can help that continue.

“But any little advantage you can pick up, or I can pass on, has to be a good thing because games at this level of football can come down to the smallest details.”

A thrilling victory over West Brom on the opening day of the season gave Darby the perfect re-introduction to the Wanderers dugout.

“When you’re working at academy level it’s great to win games but ultimately it’s down to development,” he said. “But when you go to The Hawthorns against a team just down from the Premier League and everyone has been writing you off in the press, going 2-1 up in the last minute is just something else.

“That’s what you are in the game for. I’m sure there will be lows – I hope there won’t be too many – but that kind of experience is what it’s all about.”